The Albany register. (Albany, Or.) 1868-18??, February 28, 1873, Image 1

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    L P Fisher
NO. 26.
'Hie following lecture on "The
Lost Arts," by Wendell Phillips,
is replete with entertainment and
instruction, and is well worth read
tag. Mr. Phillips, during the pres
ent lecture season, has delivered
this interesting review of his sub
ject before crowded houses in the
principal cities east of the Kocky
Mountains :
You may glance around the
furniture of the palaces in Europe,
and you may gather all these uten
sils of art and use, and when you
have fixed the shape and forms in
your mind, I will take you into the
.Museum of Naples, which gathers
all remains of the domestic life of
the Homans, and you shall hoc find
a singb one of these modern forms
of art or beauty or use, that was
not autici(ated there. We have
hardly added one single line or
sweep of beauty to the antique.
Take the stories of Shakspeare,
who has, perhaps, written his forty
odd plays. Home are historical.
The rest, two thirds of them, he
did not stop to invent, but he found
them. 7'heso he clutched, ready
made to his hand, from the Italian
novelists, who had taken them be
fore from the Fast. Cinderella and
her slipjiers is older than all his
tory, like half a dozen other baby
legends. 7'he annals of the world
do not go back far enough to tell
us from where they first came.
All the boys' plays, like every
thing that amuse the child in the
open air, are Asiatic. Rawlinson
will show yon that they came some
where from the banks of the Ganges
or the suburbs of Damascus. Bul
wer borrowed the incidents of his
Roman stories from legends of a
thousand years before. Indeed,
Dunlop, who has grouped the his
tory of the novels of all Europe
into one essay, says that in the na
tions of modern Europe there have
been 250 or 300 distinct stories.
1 le says at least 200 of these may
lie traced, before Christianity, to the
other side of the Black Sea. It
this were my topic, which it is not,
I might tell you that even our
newspaper jokes are enjoying a very
respectable old age. 7ake Maria
Edgeworth's essay on Irish bulls
and the laughable mistakes of the
Irish. Even the tale which either
Maria Edgeworth or her father
thought the best, is that famous
story of a friend writing a letter as
follows : "My Dear Frienti : I
wou'd write you in detail, more
minutely, if there was not an im
pudent fellow looking over my
shoulder loading every word."
("No, you lie I've not read a
word you have written !") Laugh
ter. This is an Irish hull, still it
is a very old one. It is only 250
years older than the new Testament.
Horace Walpole dissented from
Richard Lovell Edgeworth and
thought the other Irish bull was the
best of the man who said: "I
would have been a very handsome
man but they changed me in the
cradle." Great laughter. 7'hat
comes from Dou Quixote, and iR
Spanish ; but Cervantes borrowed
it from the Greek in tho fourth cen
tury, and tho Greek stole it from
the Egyptian hundreds of years
7'hcie is one story which it is
said Washington has reated of a
man who went into an inn and asked
for a glass of drink from the land
lord, who pushed In ward a wine
gluss about half the usual size
the tea-eups also in that day were
not mure than half the present size.
The landlord said, " 1 he glass out
of which vou are drinking is 40
years old." "Well," said the thirsty
traveler, contemplating its diminu
tive proportions. "J think it is the
smallest thing of its age lever saw."
Renewed laughter. T hat stery
a told is given as a story of Athens
375 years bofore f'hrist was born.
Why! all these Irish bulls are
Greek every one of them. G reat
merriment. Take the Irishman
who carried around a brick as a
specimen of the house he had to
sell laughter; take the Irishman
who shut his eyes and looked into
the glass to see how he would look
when he was dead renewal laugh
ter; take the Irishman that bought
a crow, alleging the crows were re
ported to live 200 years, and ho
meant to set out and try it. Laugh-,
ten Take the Irishman who met
a friend who said to him, "Why,
sir, I heard you were dead"
"Well," says the ma:i, "I suppose
you see I'm not '' "Oh ! no," says
he; "I would believe the man who
told me a good deal quicker than I
would you." Great merriment.
Well! those are all Greek. A
score or more of them, of a par
allel character, come from Athens.
Our old Boston patriots felt that
tarring and feathering a Tory was
a genuine patent Yankee firebrand
Yankeeism. They little imagin
ed that when Richard Ceeur de
Leon set out on one of his Crusades,
among the orders he issued to his
camp of soldiers was that any one
who robbed a hen-roost should be
tarred and feathered. Many a man
who lived in Connecticut has re
peated the story of taking children
to the limitR of the town and giving
them a sound thrashing to enforce
their memory of the spot. But the
Burgnndians in France, in a law
now 1,100 years old, attributed val
or to the east of Frauce because it
had a law that the children should
be taken to the limits of the dis
trict, and there soundly whipped, in
order that they might forever re
member where the limits came.
So we have very few new things
in that line. Laughtei. But I
said I would take the subject, for
instance, of this very material
very substance glass It is the
very best expression of man's self
I had heard that nothing had
been observed in ancient times
which onld be called by the name
of glass; that there had been mere
ly attempts to imitate it. I thought
they had proved the proposition;
they certainly had elaborated it.
In Pompeii, a dozen miles south of
Naples, which was covered with
ashes by Vesuvius 1800 year ago,
they broke into a room full of glass;
there was ground glass, window
glass, cut glass ami colored glass of
every variety. It was undoubtedly
a glass-maker's factory. So the he
and the refutation canto face to face.
It was like a pamphlet printed in
London in 1836 by Dr. Lardner
which proved that a steamboat
could not cross the ocean, and tho
book came to this country in the
first steamboat that came across th$
The chemistry of the most an
cient period had reached a jxrint
which we have never even approach
ed and which we in vain struggle
to reach to-day. Indeed, the whole
management of the effect of light
on glass is still a matter of pro
found study. The first two stories
which I have to offer yon are simp
ly stories from history.
" The first is from the letters of the
Catholic priests who broke into
China, which were published in
France just 200 years ago. They
were shown a g'ass, transparent and;
colorless, which was tilled with a
liquor made by the hinesa that
was shown to tho observers and ap
peared to be colorless like water.
This liquor was poured into the
glass, and then, looking through it,
it seemed to be filled with fishes.
I They turned this out and repeated
i th experiment, and again it was
tilled with fish 1 he Chinese con
fessed that they did not make them;
that they were the plunder of some
foreign conquest. This is not a
singular thing in Chinese history,
for in some of their scientific dis
coveries we have found evidence
that they did not make them, but
I stole them.
The second story, of half a dozen,
certainly five, relates to the age of
I iberius, the time of "St. Paul, and
tells of a Homan who had been
banished and who returned to Rome,
bringing a wonderful cup. This
cup lie dashed upon the marble
pavement, and it was crushed, not
broken, by the fall. It was dented
some, and with a hammer he easily
brought it into shape again. It was
brilliant, transparent, but not brit
tle. I had a wine-glass when I
made this talk in New Haven, and
among the audience was the owner,
Professor Sillimau. He was kind
enough to come to the platform
when I had ended and, say that he
was familiar with most of my facts;
but, speaking of malleable glass, he
had this to say that it was nearly
a natural impossibility, and that no
amount of evidence which onld be
brought would make him credit it.
Well, the Romans got their chem
istry from the Arabians; they
brought it into .Spain eight centur
ies ago, and in their books of that
age they claim that they got from
the Arabians malleable glass. There
is a kind of glass spoken of there
that, if supported by end, by
its own weight iu twenty hours
would dwindle down to a fine line,
which could be curved around the
wrist. Vou Roust the Chancellor
of Austria ha? ordered secrecy in
Hungary in regard to a recently
discovered process by which glass
can be used exactly like wool and
manufactured into cloth.
These are a few records. When
you go to Rome they will show
you a bit of glass like the solid rim
of this tumbler a transparent glass,
a solid thing, which tbey lift up so
as to show you that there is nothing
concealed, but in the center of the
glass is a drop of colored glass, per
haps as large as a pea, mottled like
a duck, finely mottled with the
shitting colored hues of the neck,
and which even a miniature pencil
could not do more perfectly. It is
manifest that this drop of liquid
glass must have been ponied, he
cause there is no joint. 7'his must
have been done by a greater heat
than the annealing procesr, because
that process shows breaks.
The imitation of gems has de
ceived not only the lay people, but
the connoisseurs. Some of these
imitations in later years have been
discovered. The celebiated vase of
the Genoa Cathedral was consider,
ed a solid emerald. The Roman
Catholic legend of it was that it
was one of the treasures that the
Queen of Sheba gave to Mblomon,
and that it was the identical cup
out of which the .Saviour drank at
the Last Supper. Columbus must
have admired it. It was venerable
iu his day; it was death tor any
body to touch it but a Catholic
priest. And when Napoleon be
sieged Genoa I mean the (ireat
Xapolconit was offered by tho
Jews to loan tho Senate $3,000,000
on that single article of security.
Napoleon took it and carried it to
Fiance, and travcit tothe Institute.
Somewhat rlTuotantly the scholars ;
said : "it is not a stone; we hardly- i
know what it is."
Cicero said that lie had seen the
entire Iliad, which is a, poem s
large as the New 7estament, writ
ten on skin so that it could be rolled
up in the compass of a nut shell.
Now this is imperceptible to the
ordinary eye. You have seen the
Declaration of Independence in the
compass of a quarter of a dollar,
written with glasses. I have to
day a paper at home half as long
as my hand, on which was photo
graphed the whole contents of a
London newspaper. It was put un
der a dove's wing and sent into
Paris, where they enlarged it and
read the news. This copy of the
Iliad must have been made by some
such process.
In the Roman theater the Coli
seum, which could seat 100,000
people the Emperor's box, raised
to the highest tier, bore about the
same proportion to the space as this
stand does to this hall, and to look
down to the center of a six-acre lot
was to look a considerable distance.
(Considerable, by the way, is not a
Yankee word. Lord Chesterfield
uses it iu his letters to his son, so it
has a good English origin ) Pliny
says that Nero, the tyrant, had a
ring with a gem in it which he
looked through and watched the
sword play of the gladiators men
who killed each other to amuse the
people more clearly than with the
naked eye. So Nero had an opera
So Mauritius, the Sicilian, stood
on the promontory of his island,
and could sweep over the entire sea
to the coast of Africa with his
nmmcopiti; which is a word de
rived from two Greek words, mean
ing to see a ship. Evidently Mauri
tius, who was a pirate, had a mar
ine telescope.
You may visit Dr. Abbott's
Museum, where you will see the
ring of Cheops. 7'he signet of the
ring is about the size of a quarter
of a dollar, and the engraving is in
visible without the aid of glasses.
No man was ever shown into the
cabinets of gems in Italy without
being furnished with a microscope
to look at them, it would be idle
for him to look at them without
one. He couldn't appreciate the
delicate lines and the expression of
the faces. If you go to Parma
they will show you a gem once
worn on the finger of Michael
Angelo, of which the engraving is
2,00& years old, on which there are
the figures of seven women. Von
must have the aid of a glass in or
der to distinguish the forms at all.
I have a friend who has a ring, per
haps three-quarters of an inch in
diameter, and on it is the naked
figure of the god Hercules. By
the aid of glasses you can distin
guished the interlacing muscles and
count every separate hair on the
eyebrows. Layard says h? would
be unable to read the engravings
on Nineveh without strong specta
cles, they are so extremely small.
Rawlinson brought home a stone
about twenty inches lout; and ten
inches wide, containing an entire
treatise ou mathematics. It would
be perfectly illegible without glass
es. Now, if we are unable to read
it without the aid of glasses, you
may supjwse the man who engraved
it had pretty, stroug spectacles. So
the microscope, instead of dating
from our time, finds its brothers in
the Books of .Moses and these are
infant brothers.
So it you take colors. Color is,
we say, an ornament. We dye our
dresses and ornament our furniture.
It is an ornament to gratify the eye;
but the Egyptian impressed it into
a new service. For them it was a
method of recording history. Some
parts of then history were written;
but when they wanted to elaborate
history they painted it. Their cot
u is were immortal, else we could
not know of it. vVe find upou the
stucco of their walls their kings
holding court, their armies march
ing out, their craftsmen in the ship
yard with the ships floating in the
dock, and in fact we trace all their
rites and customs painted in undy
ing colors. The French who went
to Egypt with Napoleon said that
all the colors were perfect except
the greenish-white, which is the
hardest for us. TTiey bad no diffi
culty with the Syrian purple. The.
burned city of Pompeii was a city
of stucco. All the houses are stuc
co outside, and it is stained with
Tyrian purple the royal color of
But you can never rely on the
name of a color after a thousand
years, So the Tvrian purple is al
most a red about the color of
these curtains. This is a city of all
red. It has been buried seventeen
hundred years, and if you take a
shovel now and clear away the
ashes this color flames up upon you
a great aeal richer than anything
we can prod uce. You can go dowi i
into the narrow vault which Nero
built him as a retreat from the great
heat, and you, will find the walls
painted all over with fanciful de
signs in arabesque, which have been
buried beneath the earth fifteen
hundred years; but when the peas
ants light it up with their torches
the colors flash out before you as
fresh as they were iu the days of
St. Paul. Your fellow-citizen, Mr.
Page, spent twelve years in Venice
studying Titian's method of mixing
his colors, and he thinks he has got
it. Yet come down from Titian,
whose colors are wonderfully ami
perfectly fresh, to Sir Joshua Rey
nolds, and although his colors are
not yet a hundred years old, they
are fading; the colors on his lips ire
dying out, and the cheeks are losing
their tints. He did not know how
to mix well. All this mastery of
color is as yet uuequaled. It you
should go with that most delightful
of all lecturers, Professor Tyndall,
he would show you in the spectrum
the vanishing rays of violet, and
prove to you that beyond their limit
there are rays still more delicate
and to you invisible, but which he.
by chemical paier, will make visi
ble; and he will tell yon that prob
ably, though you see three or four
inches more than 300 years ago
your predecessors did, and yet 30i
years after our successors will sur
pass our limit. The French have at
theory that there is a certain deli
cate shadow of blue that Europeans
cannot see. In one of his lectures
to his students, Buskin opened his
Catholic mass-book and said: "Gen.
tlemeu, we are the best chemists in
the world. No Englishman ever
could doubt that. But we cannot
make such a scarlet aa that, and
even if we could it would not last
for twenty years. Yet this is 500.
years old." The Frenchman says :
"l am the best dyer in Europe; no.
body can equal me, and nobody can
surjiass Lyons" Vet in Cashmere,
where the girls make shawls worth
fc30,000, tiiey will show him 30(
distinct, colors, which he not Only
cannot make, but cannot even dis
tinguish. When I wajs iu Rome, if
a lady wished to weat a half dozen
colors at a masquerade, and lv
them all in harmony, she would g
to the Jews, for the. Oriental eye is
better than even those of France or
Italy, of whio!i we. titbit so highly.
Taking the metals, the Bible in
its first chapter shows that man
first eouqueied metals there in Asia,
ami on that spot to-day he can
work mow wonder with those
metals than we can.
One of the surprises, that the
European artists received when the
English plundered the Summer
palace of the King of China was
the curionsly.wcoiight metal vessels